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Thursday May 3, 2018   
Downtown Minneapolis is filled with enclosed walkways connecting the many skyscrapers while the University of Minnesota East Campus has an underground tunnel system connecting the old historical buildings throughout Northrop Mall. Figure 1 | Downtown Minneapolis Skywalk   The reason is simple, it is to protect the individuals living/visiting the vibrant city or university from the elements Mother Nature brings to the region such blistering cold weather or massive gusts of wind that rip through the streets or around the buildings.  A little further south and east, there is a city that sits on Lake Michigan that is know as the 'Windy City', yes it is Chicago.  If you have ever walked along Lake Shore Drive on a winter/spring day, the gust of wind off the lake can be so ... » read more
Wednesday May 2, 2018   
After an absolutely brutal April we are starting to see some serious warmth on the horizon as we enter May.  While the current forecast is trending well above normal, May is typically the month which sees the largest shift between heating degree days (HDDs) and cooling degree days (CDDs).  Below in Figure 1 we have charted normal HDDs and CDDs (weighted) for the US as May progresses from start to finish.  Here we can see a gradual transition, as CDDs overtake HDDs just after mid-month.  Figure 1 | ConUS Daily Normal HDD vs CDDs - May As mentioned above, this season is not expected to have a smooth transition, with the majority of the country going from well below to well above normal temperatures in less than a week's time, per Figure 2.  The low pressure ... » read more
Tuesday May 1, 2018   
The 1973 title fight covered by Howard Cosell is more known for the color commentary than it is for the quality of the boxing. An undefeated champion Joe Frazier took on a younger, stronger, and undefeated George Foreman in what was billed for months as the fight of the century. In the end, it was not much of a contest. Big George had his way with Smokin Joe and the fight was called within two rounds. You wouldn't know it by the way the fight has been portrayed in history. It is often on the short list for greatest sporting moments despite the quick work that the challenger made of the champion.  The natural gas basis markets have been anticipating the the battle for May AECO for more than six months. Back in the fall, Nova Gas Transmission posted a preliminary outage schedule for ... » read more
Monday Apr 30, 2018   
It seems like every time one turns on the news or opens the newspaper in the Pacific Northwest they read something about somebody having issues with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA).  Environmentalists attack BPA because the dams they operate have been known to kill salmon and steelhead, fish for which most people in the region would like to see increased survival rates.  As a result, every spring BPA is forced to spill water through the spillways (as opposed to generating) at eight dams on the Lower Snake and Lower Columbia rivers in an attempt to improve the probabilities of salmon and steelhead surviving their trip to the Pacific Ocean.  This costs BPA, and thus their customers, $10's of millions of dollars per year.  Starting this year, as we have ... » read more
Friday Apr 27, 2018   
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a newsletter titled "Shapely Prices." In that missive I took a look at the value of solar and wind production-weighted prices compared to simple block prices. The punchline of that newsletter appears below in Figure 1.  The x-axis represents load share which is the total percentage of annual load that is met by that resource. For example, in 2017 ERCOT wind had 17% load share (the right hand orange plus sign) while CAISO solar had 11% load share (which is likely more like 15% due to roof top solar which is not in this data. The y-axis is what we call a "scalar" which is calculated by taking the resource-weighted value compared to a simple 8760 price. The solar scalar in the CAISO in 2017 was about 79% while the wind scalar in ERCOT was around 85%. We ... » read more
Thursday Apr 26, 2018   
The Algonquin Pipeline (AGT) has been a focal point which ISONE prices hinge. This electrical grid is a unique system that reaches its highest prices in the winter caused by residential and commercial heating demand. AGT is pushed to its limits, which turns natural gas into a scarce resource for power generators as the pipeline reaches binding constraints at the Stony Point Compressor. With gas choked off, the grid resorts to oil which becomes the cheapest fuel available but multiple times more expensive than natural gas when there are no constraints. The shift in generation ultimately leads Mass Hub LMPs rocketing upwards, like we saw in January of this year. On the other hand, summer has even greater electrical demand, but in the past has not seen the same fuel switching dynamic. With ... » read more
Wednesday Apr 25, 2018   
California always has something going on that is worth discussing.  As of late, the biggest topic of discussion is tied to what is going on with SoCal Citygate when it comes to the volatile prices in the cash market.  For example, the latest three day package (last weekend) saw SoCal Citygate index $2.25 after peaking out at $4.10 on the 17th. Figure 1 | SoCal Citygate Daily Cash Prices As we sat down this week, the temperatures were expected to warm up across the Desert Southwest and the southern part of California.  As expected, the day-ahead load profile within the CAISO footprint shifted up to a point that Tuesday's peak hit 28.6 GW. Figure 2 | CAISO Day-Ahead Load Profile - Hourly This is roughly 2 GW higher than what we saw on the 17th and just under 3.7 GW higher ... » read more
Tuesday Apr 24, 2018   
It has been a long insufferable month of chilly weather for most of the Northeast. Over the past two months there has only been a handful of days where the temperatures reached above normal. This has stalled out any possibility of storage injections by keeping the space heating at levels usually reserved for early March. Heading into next month, we are finally getting a chance to see the region move back up to normal. This will finally take the ResCom demand back down to normal providing the first opportunity of the year to inject volume back into the natural gas storage complex in the area.    Figure 1 | Columbus Ohio Average, Actual and Forecasted Temperatures DTI storage usually starts injecting gas on or near the first of April. Due to the colder temperatures ... » read more
Monday Apr 23, 2018   
It has been a long, cold, and wet winter for most residents of the Pacific Northwest.  The wetter the winter, the more snow that falls in the mountains, which eventually melts into water and gets pushed through the river system.  The colder the winter, the later in the year that said melt occurs.  As you can see in Figure 1, using the January-July measure as a barometer for this year's water year, there will be 120.8 million acre feet (MAF) going through The Dalles Dam on the Columbia River system between January 1, 2018 and July 31st, 2018.  This figure is 119% of the 1981-2000 normal.  That is a VERY healthy water year, and one of the biggest on record  (16th biggest water year on record).  Amazingly enough it is still 17 MAF shy of last year's giant ... » read more
Friday Apr 20, 2018   
Anyone who has spent time around young kids knows that they ask a ton of questions. Most questions have easy answers which you give and move on. But some questions are disarming, and go right to a core principle or a value. A number of years ago I had the following dialogue with my daughter: Daughter: Where would we live if we didn’t have any money? Tim: Well, mom and I both have jobs and that’s where the money comes from that pays the mortgage on the house. Daughter: But what if you didn’t have a job? Tim: I’d go find another one. Daughter: But what if you couldn’t find another job? Tim: We have savings and we’d live off that for a while. Daughter: What would happen if you didn’t have a job and you had no savings? Long pause … in four ... » read more
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